"Does this mask smell like nitrous oxide to you?"
December 18, 2014 7:54 PM   Subscribe

Dalhousie Dental School is embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal. A group of about a dozen seniors known as the DDS 2015 Gentlemen's Club have been posting crude jokes about sexual violence and female subjugation in a closed Facebook group, targeting female students and including jokes about using dental anesthetic as a rape drug. The administrations choice to go with a restorative justice approach has not been met with much approval. Dalhousie is still trying to recover from it's last sexual violence scandal not that long ago.
posted by thelaze (58 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

How disgusting.
posted by Renoroc at 8:14 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seems to me like this sends a clear message to future Dalhousie Dental School students: "Don't worry, you can do things like this and not risk your prospects to attain a license to practice dentistry."
posted by oceanjesse at 8:18 PM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Expel them. Expel them all.
posted by seawallrunner at 8:20 PM on December 18, 2014 [14 favorites]

It raises an interesting question - can you sexually harass someone with speech they don't actually have access to? I mean, it was crude and unprofessional and everything, but it was in a closed facebook group. Nobody for whom the speech was unwelcome should have ever had access to it. Obviously it got leaked, but what if it hadn't, or was leaked only to the university admin?
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:25 PM on December 18, 2014

Sorry for the derail, but I just wanted to point out that Dal (the school of the horrific dental school facebook page) and SMU (the school of the horrific frosh chant) are different universities, although they are both located in the city of Halifax.
posted by wollaston at 8:36 PM on December 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

While they may be trying to do the right thing, it doesn't seem like the university has quite grasped the idea of 'restorative justice' that they quote as their response. It seems that they are passing the responsibility for dealing with this directly to the victims as a way of avoiding dealing with the issue themselves. Sure, it's a difficult issue to deal with, but that's the job of the university administration and, if they aren't prepared to make their university a safe place for everyone, then they should step aside and let someone else do so.

The idea that it would be OK if they didn't get caught and the suggestion that it may be OK because the victims 'shouldn't' have had access to the content is ludicrous. To say so is to support the idea that it's OK for people harbouring sick rape fantasies to be given the means to easily carry them out, by giving them access to both vulnerable people and the drugs to render them totally defenseless.
posted by dg at 8:36 PM on December 18, 2014 [9 favorites]

dg: To say so is to support the idea that it's OK for people harbouring sick rape fantasies to be given the means to easily carry them out, by giving them access to both vulnerable people and the drugs to render them totally defenseless.

"Sick rape fantasies" are about a million miles past making the (very tired) joke "Does this rag smell like chloroform to you?"
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:40 PM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Last I was hearing was that the province, which has half the seats on the College (whatever the formal name for the dentistry regulatory board is) is still considering barring them from practicing dentistry. Which would absolutely make sense - my guess as another Canadian regulated professional is that there is a 'good character clause' that lets them refuse entry to people not in good standing. It's relatively rare, but it seems reasonable in this case.
posted by Lemurrhea at 8:52 PM on December 18, 2014 [5 favorites]

"Sick rape fantasies" are about a million miles past making the (very tired) joke "Does this rag smell like chloroform to you?"
Perhaps, but 'which of these two fellow students would you like to hate fuck?', not so much.
posted by dg at 9:00 PM on December 18, 2014

Yeah, I would like for these people to never be allowed in the same room as a patient, unconscious or otherwise.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:01 PM on December 18, 2014 [21 favorites]

Well, I probably shouldn't get in to defending their speech, because I'm pretty sure I think these guys are shit as much as you do. The thing that makes me uncomfortable here is the idea the college is supposed to police the private speech of their students.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:04 PM on December 18, 2014 [9 favorites]

There's no justice in preventing these guys from becoming dentists. I'm not sure what the appropriate measure would be, though. They deserve some censure at the very least.
posted by michaelh at 9:47 PM on December 18, 2014

No one is contesting their right to free speech. But there is no freedom to be a dentist.

Analogy -- I'm a standup comedian. From time to time I think teaching sounds like a good job -- the last consistently unionized gig, educate kids, etc. Both of my brothers and both of their wives are teachers. But I'm pretty sure it would be a bad choice, because I like to say funny obnoxious things. Just say things, about politics or whatever. And parents don't accept that.

These guys are worse. They're asking for a license to anesthetize female patients, and egging each other on for fantasies of abusing them under anaesthesia. You can't write that off as an improbable fantasy -- there have been many many cases of dentists caught sexually abusing patients, and given the anaesthesia that they thought would mask their abuse, there are probably many more we don't know about.

Would you be comfortable if this was an education college, and they were saying the same kinds of things about 7 year old girls, with pictures of real children they knew on their facebook "gags"?
posted by msalt at 9:58 PM on December 18, 2014 [22 favorites]

The restorative justice angle has been interesting. My Facebook news feed (and real life friend circle) is full of progressive Canadian lawyers, who have long banged the drum for restorative justice programmes and declarations that mainstream Canadian legal society can learn much from the Aboriginal communities that heavily rely on circles of justice involving discussions between perpetrators and victims, etc.

And yet, in this case 95% of them have loudly decided that restorative justice is completely inappropriate, despite the fact that it was initially proposed by several of the victims.
posted by modernnomad at 10:28 PM on December 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

Facebook ain't private speech. Anything you say on there about someone may as well be to their face.
posted by koeselitz at 10:30 PM on December 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

The same punishment may not apply to all group members.
However I would not want someone who jokes about nitrous oxide as a tool of rape as my dentist. I wasn't surprised that area dentists were speaking out vehemently and will also not be surprised if the dental college decides not to include these men among their peers.

As msalt says we would expect similar for the teachers college.

I also find the restorative justice angle interesting... First because their claim that women wanted this process has now been refuted so vehemently, but also because I struggle generally with the question of the university's role. They used to act in loco parentis and control student behaviour a lot, but that shifted. Recently, though, Canadian universities have been setting up judicial systems for non-academic matters and I worry if they may worry too much about reputation for fair hearings for either party.
posted by chapps at 12:18 AM on December 19, 2014

Dalhousie claims that the victims proposed and agreed with restorative justice but that has been disputed by at least one of the women. The administration definitely looks to be avoiding answering the question of whether these men should be allowed into the profession. Or at the very least kicking the can until they are forced to deal with it.

Health professions, as well as teachers, are supposed to be held to a higher standard morally because they are in positions of power over vulnerable people. This was certainly emphasized in my education as a physician.

These guys weren't caught making a few off the cuff remarks at a party, they cultivated a group and put a lot of time and effort into entertaining each other with jokes about abusing people in vulnerable states and demeaning their female colleagues. The public should rightly question a dental school that thinks these people should be allowed to take care of anyone. Free speech is a right, being a dentist is a privilege you have to prove yourself worthy of.

Sorry about the Dal/SMU mix-up. Ignorant Ontarian, I guess...
posted by thelaze at 4:58 AM on December 19, 2014 [9 favorites]

I think the reason that the restorative justice approach seems inappropriate here is that one of its advantages is the ability to shield a community from the negative impacts of the justice system as administered by the state by focussing on the needs of the victims and the community as a whole.

This may be appropriate as a method of addressing a conflict between students but I think the university has made a colossal mistake in using this approach to handle an issue of professional discipline for which they are responsible to the public. Another way of looking at it is that the "affected community" is actually anyone in Canada who requires dental care.

To me, the announcement of the restorative justice approach smacks of a cynical attempt to appeal to progressives who would otherwise be overwhelmingly critical of the university.
posted by aquafiend at 5:36 AM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

In my naivety, restorative justice seems to make sense in communities where, for better or for worse, perpetrator and victim are stuck together. In this case, once school is done, "get me the fuck out of there".
posted by anthill at 6:39 AM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah, at first I was amused that so many of my currently-eastcoast progressive friends were going against restorative justice - but after looking into it I tend to agree. Anthill's point is well-taken, and it's sounding like, at best, Dal pushed restorative justice as "the right option" or "the only option" to a lot of these women, and then relied on them going along with it as a shield to avoid doing it.

Plus, like, what's to restore? Part of the weirdness in this situation is that, speaking purely legally (which is absolutely not the only way to look at it), the harm done to any one person is pretty minimal. As far as I know nobody has been assaulted, I'm not even sure if anyone's been defamed.* So while the women involved are victims, it is more victimization in a social sense than legal. You wouldn't do restorative justice for a plagiarism incident, because although every other student is harmed by the actions (whether or not the formal grade is on a curve, being in the top X% matters), it's viewed as a reputational thing for the school, a 'community harm' kind of thing. So here to treat it as a criminal matter and go to restoration is kind of passing the buck.

Personally I have a lot of concerns about restorative justice in the general sense, while being aware of its history in a lot (not all) of aboriginal cultures and having done a mock sentencing circle in crim law class instead of a trial. I think that it has a strong potential to reify social power dynamics in the community, and places a high burden on the victim to 'go along' or open themselves up for later criticism in the community. Much like in this case.

*I hope I am not minimizing the harm that the people discussed in the facebook group are going through, because that's definitely not my intention. I absolutely support them if they feel unsafe around their classmates, frustrated/despondent by the objectification, etc etc. It's just that this is kind of a weird situation and I'm spitballing about a specific aspect.
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:29 AM on December 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

Thanks for posting this. I was listening to the CBC on the way to work today, and they were saying how restorative justice isn't typically a good option when it is being pushed ahem "suggested" by those in power over the victims i.e. the president of the university. If the president is "suggesting" restorative justice to women in the school, there is immense pressure for the women to agree to it. Really in this case I can't see it being the best option for the women, and it looks like Dalhousie just wants to bury it.

Also listening to the audio clip of the president speaking made me ill. Sure he spoke of how bad he felt for the women, but it really sounded like a grand narcissistic show of poetic crocodile tears.

This should go on the permanent records of the dentists who participated so consumers can make informed decisions.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:54 AM on December 19, 2014

You know, as an electrical engineer I used to feel very awkward and irritated by the apparent prevalence of engineers, especially electrical engineers, among those who pushed Intelligent Design in Internet arguments in the days of yore, also known as USENET. I have been known to actually apologize for my profession over that.

This is several orders of magnitude worse; incomparably worse. I really can't blame the dentist community for not wanting these guys in their profession. And that before what was pointed out upstream in this thread, which is that healthcare professions do put the providers in positions of power over those in their care. With that factor added in, it becomes yet even worse. It may sound like harsh punishment over "just words," but... no. It really isn't.

("Dentist community" is awkward phrasing, but I am under the influence of cold medicine and it's hard to brain today.)
posted by seyirci at 8:27 AM on December 19, 2014

Now I'm even more scared of dentists.

Also a good reminder that the word "professional" can really only be applied to an individual based on demonstrated skill and character. It should not be an umbrella for groups to use to yield and enhance power. I'm looking at you, "professional" bodies.
posted by sylvanshine at 8:54 AM on December 19, 2014

In my naivety, restorative justice seems to make sense in communities where, for better or for worse, perpetrator and victim are stuck together.

But isn't this the case? These male students are still in classes with the women they've been victimizing. I know at least one fellow student had her photo posted on that site.
posted by kitcat at 10:15 AM on December 19, 2014

In my naivety, restorative justice seems to make sense in communities where, for better or for worse, perpetrator and victim are stuck together.
But isn't this the case?

Well no, because there are ways of making it so that they're not stuck together; expelling the perpetrators. Anthill's talking about things like small communities where both parties grew up and have all of their family, at which point expulsion/banishment is harder and more problematic. The context is very different.
posted by Lemurrhea at 10:40 AM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Another option is suspension, if a hearing finds it warranted, with an opportunity to appeal for readmission in the Fall, after the rest of the cohort has completed. This would allow those who demonstrate they can grow beyond this behaviour a chance to move on, while not making the women affected share their last term with these guys in their classes.

University completion is no guarantee the dental college will accept them as professionals, though. My understanding is that, as with other professional licencing, one must graduate with the degree, perhaps complete a practicum, and then apply for admission to the college. After admission to the college one may practice. Depending on the result of any academic discipline, there may be remarks on the transcript leading to a further process before admission.
posted by chapps at 1:00 PM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

University completion is no guarantee the dental college will accept them as professionals, though.

The thing I'm wondering, though, is once the restorative justice process is done - whatever the result - is the dental school going to inform the dental licensing bodies about the investigation? What, if anything, will be put on these students' records? If the administration is trying to shelter them, I don't see what the licensing bodies are going to do if they have no information on who these guys are.

Way to screw over all the OTHER men in that class, Dalhousie. They will never escape the shadow of what their classmates did if no names are ever released.
posted by thelaze at 1:42 PM on December 19, 2014

Dalhousie routinely expels students for plagiarism. Surely this is at least as serious as plagiarism.
posted by joannemerriam at 2:41 PM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I liked the concept of restorative justice (hadn't heard of it before), but it just doesn't seem appropriate in this case, unless all parties were agreeable to it, which doesn't seem to be the case. Unlike the usual punitive approach, restorative justice would require complete acceptance of the process and the outcomes, which is problematic in an environment where it's easy for the perpetrators to fade away and escape the consequences. The university environment, where most people are not part of the community for more than a few years, doesn't really lend itself to this sort of approach, in my view.

On the other hand, it seems pretty unlikely that any action will come of this from a law enforcement perspective and it doesn't seem right that there are no consequences, so it's either the university or the relevant professional body that is in the box seat. As thelaze points out, doing nothing means the whole cohort is tainted - at the least, the perpetrators need to be named so those not participating are out of the spotlight. To take no punitive action, though, reinforces the 'boys will be boys' vibe that many are giving off over this. The university needs to take a stand and make it clear they have no tolerance for such behaviour or they are implicitly endorsing the behaviour.

The suggestion that the university is policing private behaviour is a non-starter in my view - they clearly identified themselves as a part of the university and, in doing so, are representing the university. To me, this makes it clear the university has the primary responsibility to take action.
posted by dg at 2:58 PM on December 19, 2014

I think restorative justice encouraged by communities for sexual abusers and harassers is another form of abuse. I have listened to enough rapists cry and say they're sorry and held their hands and helped them feel better. I may even do it again if I so choose, but I FUCK if I will have a community that wants me to sit there and listen to some shitscum explain to me how they're sorry they rape fantasized with my photos and said horrible things about me and let's all make nice now amirite? Comforting people who rape or sexually harrass you is a special fucking realm of hell, and pretending it has anything to do with "justice" is shit. It's just shit.

And the reality there's not that much else to do in these "justice" circles. You tell them they hurt you and you're sad angry and they say sorry and then we're all better! YAY!

And everyone thinks how sweet it is, marks as resolved, the assault victim is considered good because they did their duty to forgive and make nice with abusers like they are supposed to and everyone goes home "happy". And yes I've read extensively about what it's supposed to be and certain peoples claims of great experiences- and I'm not suggesting individuals shouldn't be ALLOWED to use some of those structures if they feel like, it- just as a systemic solution to abuse it's fucked up as all hell. It essentially creates a process where people can sexually harrass and rape and then return to their normal accepted and loved status with their community as long as they make nice in the restorative justice process.

I AM interested in using restorative justice in tandem with other forms of justice (Like say a person is IN JAIL and a victim wants to work on restorative justice with them). And I say that as someone who ACTUALLY DOES care about multiple people who have raped and abused me. I know how horrific it is to go through loving people through that and the idea that process is "For" the victim rather than a heroic kindness a victim can choose to do for an abuser they feel like doing that for is sick and twisted and harmful. I was raped by one person who showed not even the slightest remorse, and fucking shit if I'm forgiving him or sitting in some circle with him while he mumbles some shit to redeem himself in the eyes of his peers- and give everyone whose giddy to forget about it and move on permission to go on business as usual with the perpetrator.

And I can gaurantee you many of the people who are really into restorative justice (from my personal experience so I'm sure this varies by crowd thats into it)ABSOLUTELY DO shame victims who "cling to anger" and "refuse to heal and move on by loving their abuser" and a bunch of other shit I think is sick and more abuse of vulnerable people.

Also I am trying not to sound really grouchy but my shingles is acting up and I'm in OUCH. I find restorative justice, radical forgiveness and other things, interesting and useful in meditation or to reflection when considering how to approach something but honestly I think they may be harmful tools when applied ruthlessly to everything- like for example when they result is horrible judgements of people who do not want to be friends with sexual harassers-- or sit in a circle and hear jack shit about their feelings or motivations- or share vulnerable emotions of how I've been harmed be it my anger or hurt with someone who is that horrible.

I mean I'm into reforming how we handle justice, more human prisons, focus on rehabilitation, healing,and understanding the origins of personality disorders and criminal ideologies and behaviors and helping people who have committed such crimes better understand themselves and seek healing and growth to prevent doing such things again. Structural changes to help grow healthy people with pro-social values through supporting human development across the lifespan. There's all sorts of fun progressive changes we could make that I think would be awesome, and I know a few people and places where forms of restorative justice have been used well but overall when I hear the word I think of the majority of people I know who talk about and try to use it who have this idea that all survivors need to be free of all anger or they are "hurting themselves" and their pain is all their own fault.
posted by xarnop at 3:02 PM on December 19, 2014 [6 favorites]

If these were practicing dentists, operating at a clinic or two, what would be the potential punishment? Were their comments illegal (making this a police matter) or just reprehensible? If it's the latter, is there a regulatory body that could pull their licences?
posted by GhostintheMachine at 3:46 PM on December 19, 2014

Yeah, it seems to me that restorative justice is more suited to where there is a tangible wrong that can be reversed - if you steal someone's pig, you give their pig back and also give them one of yours. In a situation like this, where the harm is less tangible (not to say that it's less real by any means), the concept is more problematic. Punitive justice doesn't really do much better, though - maybe situations like this require a mix of both, in that perpetrators need to be punished in addition to taking action to restore the harm. The problem is it isn't really possible to 'restore' in this case - there's no way to take back the action or undo the harm.
posted by dg at 3:50 PM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

They likely are practicing already in the training clinic on campus. Under supervision.
posted by chapps at 6:55 PM on December 19, 2014

So if I have this straight...
1. SMU is a different school, so the bottom half of the post is not relevant.
2. A bunch of male dental students from Dalhousie U. were in a "gentlemen's club."
3. Some of these members posted rape/sexual fantasy messages about specific female students to this private group.
4. The posts were leaked.

Is it ok to sit around with some guys and talk about raping women after a few drinks....NO. Is it ok to do the same and post it to the internet...NO. Is it ok to talk about using the specific tools of your trade, that are usually used for good, to be used to rape people....NO.

I do have a problem with there not seeming to be any actual physical intent, and thus it just being "0101010". Without knowing more it seems like there are a whole bunch of people that need some counselling, this is not normal behaviour. I have trouble believing there are so many bad apples in one years class. Did the dental students in 2013 do the same thing and just not get caught? All-in-all these students sound like real assholes and I feel sorry for all the female classmates.

But do you ruin there life for a private facebook posts with no intent? If there is intent sure, ruin away.
posted by sety at 7:38 AM on December 20, 2014

Well fundamentally they're the ones ruining their lives by committing what is or should be an expulsion-worthy (or regulated-profession-barring-worthy) actions. If I go bankrupt I could easily be kicked out of mine. I'm not too bothered. It's not criminal punishment.
posted by Lemurrhea at 8:12 AM on December 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

In Ontario recently an anesthetist was caught sexually abusing women in the OR while they were anesthetized. It seems as though this behaviour was going on for YEARS before he was finally caught. If we lived in a world where it was completely unheard of for men in health care to use drugs to rape female patients then sure, yeah, why ruin these idiots lives for a few jokes. But these horrific violations occur and for every abuser there is usually a whole group of colleagues who knew something was going on but didn't say anything. Forming a "gentlemen's club" that targets female colleagues and jokes about using anesthesia to rape women is a HUGE red flag towards future abuse and/or future "looking the other way" about a colleague's abuse. If your attitude as a person who has been granted the enormous privilege of access to anesthesia is that these jokes are appropriate that you are NOT someone who can manage the equally enormous responsibility of using these drugs.

Let's not worry so much about "ruining" the lives of people who have proven they do not belong in health care. They are young, smart and likely well-off. They will bounce back a lot faster than those abused at the hands of a health care provider do.
posted by thelaze at 8:41 AM on December 20, 2014 [7 favorites]

The post is incorrect about SMU, but I think the SMU story is relevant because it is part of a series of high profile rape-chant incidents at Canadian universities over the past year. Another high profile rape-chant happened at UBC last year during the business school orientation funded by the school.

These guys also reference Jian Ghomeshi with their "hate f---" remark... So to me their comments are bizarrely aware of public outrage about sexual violence at work, and mocking the issue, while participating in harassment. Something more disturbing about that... Turning your mind to that case, then joking about doing it to your colleague.

We don't know what the participation of each guy was either. I expect that a different result is warranted for each guy and certainly an investigation before any punishment determined... As to ruining careers... A degree in mathematics or philosophy is not the same as dentistry or (as noted above) teaching. The school must teach the content, but they also assess professional suitability. Perhaps not every guy in the FB group has shown they don't meet the suitability test, but I won't be surprised if some do.

The measure of these guys will be what they do with the punishment doled out. The "ruining of their life" remains to be seen, and I think it will be up to them to decide on how that goes, ultimately.
posted by chapps at 8:43 AM on December 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

And to be clear, I am not saying this behaviour would be acceptable in Math or Philosophy programs. Just trying to explore the dual role of the university in this case.
posted by chapps at 9:20 AM on December 20, 2014

Chapps, does the school assess professional suitability? Law school is slightly different (mainly because there are a lot more non-lawyer jobs that it helps for), but the school absolutely does not do the assessment, the Law Society does (hence the Trinity Western law school ongoing debacle. I'm not sure it's a factor they have to consider.
posted by Lemurrhea at 11:31 AM on December 20, 2014

...does the school assess professional suitability?

In med school they absolutely do this kind of assessment. There is a demerit system known as the "professional lapse" (at least where I went to school) which broadly covers inappropriate behaviour that is not strictly speaking related to academics. Examples include anything from chronic lateness to class/lab/clinic or speaking inappropriately to a nurse or patient, etc. One prof told us a fucked up story about a student taking a body part from the anatomy lab home on public transit (whereupon it dramatically fell out of the bag and rolled onto the floor). That was a lapse that resulted in expulsion.

Anyway, my point is: health care professions are self-regulating and are required to hold their members to a certain standard of behaviour. Strong academics are not sufficient to obtain a degree - students have to prove themselves worthy of the responsibility bestowed upon them.
posted by thelaze at 12:41 PM on December 20, 2014 [4 favorites]

To be accredited, dental schools must demonstrate their curriculum will ensure competency. Competency includes academic knowledge, practical application of skills, and professional conduct. I expect every school dealing with nursing, dentistry, social work would have procedures for dealing with unprofessional conduct.

After graduation you deal with certification bodies doing exams before applying to the regulator for a license to practice dentistry. Recently they barred people permanently from taking the exam after they were found cheating. So ethics is serious stuff at that level too.

After passing the exam you can apply for a license to practice provincially. The regulator ask you to make an oath about being an "of good character", asks about past suspensions and conducts a criminal record check.

The language about professional conduct is the same at all three levels. It includes a responsibility for ethical behaviour toward colleagues in the profession.
posted by chapps at 5:09 PM on December 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

sety: “But do you ruin there life for a private facebook posts with no intent? If there is intent sure, ruin away.”

First of all: there is no such thing as a private Facebook post. I'll say that again, because it deserves repeating: there is no such thing as a private Facebook post.

Second of all: the choice between "do nothing" and "ruin their lives" is a false choice. If someone makes a public threat – and a threat published on Facebook is a public threat – then they're guilty of threatening someone, which is in fact a crime. Nobody's ruining anybody's life. If someone has committed a crime, they should be punished for it.
posted by koeselitz at 12:41 PM on December 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

koeselitz: "First of all: there is no such thing as a private Facebook post."

Could you explain a little what you mean by that? Is this a general "nothing posted anywhere on the internet is private and everything is fair game" thing, or do you mean something specifically about facebook?
posted by vanar sena at 8:54 PM on December 22, 2014

This is a great article by The Coast covering pretty much every aspect of the problem, and confirms that there are a significant proportion of women mentioned who didn't agree to restorative justice, and didn't even get informed that they were the subject of specific posts.
posted by Lemurrhea at 5:31 AM on December 23, 2014 [4 favorites]

"According to the dental school’s clinic policy and procedures manual, access to the clinic can be suspended for violations as minor as chewing gum. “'It is a privilege not a right for students to treat patients in this Clinic.'”

Phew. I was worried that future dentists might not know the vital error against professionalism that is gum chewing in clinic. That is definitely more important that knowing the person using anesthesia on me isn't talking behind my back about using that drug as a weapon against me. Glad to know Dal Dentistry has it priorities straight.
posted by thelaze at 9:30 AM on December 23, 2014

The article from The Coast is striking for a a couple reasons. First, that the group was going for several years. Second, the story about the behaviour of the prof suggests broader cultural problems.

I am heartened, however, that some faculty have taken on the role of being the "named complainant"... I guess in part to allow students to remain anonymous. However, if the unicersity admin had seen the Facebook post, surely the university had a duty to proceed with a conduct review, regardless of whether the women complained at all?

Regarding the question of Facebook privacy... I think it is a distraction. The expectation of conduct would be that dentistry students not speak to each other in a manner demeaning to fellow students in any context. So a chat at one of their houses, phone calls, chats at the pub, in Facebook groups... In any venue this behaviour was not in keeping with the code of conduct for the profession of dentistry. Facebook
posted by chapps at 3:12 PM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]

The profs making the complaint have now come forward and made their complaint public.
posted by chapps at 11:03 AM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

About damn time. It would have been insane to allow those students back into clinic to practice on some of the most vulnerable patients in the community without some kind of investigation first.
posted by thelaze at 11:25 AM on January 5, 2015

So if I understand this right, they've:

1) waited until the students returned before announcing this decision, so they could ensure the safety of the thirteen suspended students, and

2) suspended them from clinical practice, so they could ensure the safety of patients,

...but have not yet suspended them from classes/exams, where they could interact with the students they directly threatened? Interesting priorities, Dal.

I'm sure they'll eventually get around to doing this, but it's telling what they've chosen to prioritize here.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 11:28 AM on January 5, 2015

On CBC radio they university official who said they did not disclose the decision until now because there was concern about the mental wellbeing (self harm risk) of some of the students involved. That seems like a legitimate reason for delayed public disclosure, if the students involved knew what was happening.
posted by chapps at 5:37 PM on January 5, 2015

Oh God, I just read that Coast link and I am so horrified and enraged I can hardly see straight. When I heard the (end of) the story on the news this evening, I heard the men were suspended from clinical practice but assumed they were also suspended from classes. The CBC website says the president of Dal refused to say whether the students would be suspended from classes or not (they still might be; the dentistry students don't go back until next week).

And that restorative justice idea was some kind of bullshit. It seemed to be an idea borne of desperation--the Dal administration didn't know what to do but knew it couldn't just sit on its hands so hey, I know, restorative justice sounds good, sounds justice-y, but should also pacify all those hippie type feminists who are really, really mad right now! Come the fuck on. That is not what restorative justice is for. I think RJ can be good and useful when done well, but this wasn't that.

If I were in charge of that shitshow, I would have these priorities, in this order:

1) safety of classmates and patients
2) sending a message that this is unacceptable
3) remediation of the perpetrators.

If they don't suspend these students from classes and make them attend some kind of intensive "don't be a fucking misogynist" course, I for one will not be impressed. In my opinion, Dalhousie needs to take responsibility for making sure the men do not just go on to graduate as they planned with no consequences. That means suspension and late graduation at the very least. However, I think this is a golden opportunity to do what a university is supposed to do: educate. These men are presumably going to be a part of society for 50+ more years, and I would rather they received a dose of education on why what they did was misogynistic and WRONG than a mere suspension with no conditions for return other than the passing of time. And, I actually would not want them expelled (at least not right away) for the same reason--I think there is a hope that they can be educated out of their horrible current states and rehabilitated, which I don't think will happen with immediate expulsion.

I really, really don't believe this kind of thing happens in a vacuum. It's clear from that Coast article that the Dalhousie School of Dentistry has a serious, serious culture of misogyny that has been allowed to flourish among male faculty as well as students. Disgusting as all get out. And this...this is a systemic problem that belongs to the institution. I'm not impressed at how the president and/or administration has handled this, not at all. You made 'em, Dal, now you need to fix 'em.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 6:38 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

The (licensing) College is stepping in. As I suggested above, there is a 'moral fitness' aspect to becoming a licensed dentist, and the university doesn't control it. Who knows if the other provincial regulators will step in, but I'd expect so.
posted by Lemurrhea at 5:31 AM on January 6, 2015

Interesting to note that this is the Ontario licensing college -- a different province. Has anyone seen a statement from Nova Scotia's board? Other provincial licensing bodies?
posted by chapps at 11:14 AM on January 6, 2015

Haven't seen a statement, but yesterday's G&M article says that Nova Scotia, Alberta, and BC have all made statements about ensuring that those particular students are of 'good character' - I'd expect the rest to follow suit, probably slower because they're smaller (although the Atlantic provinces should step up, since it's pretty common to go to Dal for dentistry in the area).

There's also this letter from 4 women in the program, rejecting the 'false choice' of restorative justice or outing themselves as formal complainants.
posted by Lemurrhea at 8:03 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

I saw that letter from the students; very upsetting to hear women feel pressured, and also feel they will be targeted if they make a formal complaint.

I heard the interview with the Ontario licensing body on CBC power and politics yesterday, which was very interesting.

Also, Dal has launched a dedicated website to keep the campus updated on the issue and the university's response.
posted by chapps at 10:15 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

So, this is good news. Backhouse is a phenomenal scholar, and definitely not someone who will either cover over the problems or stop just at the 13 men in question. She's absolutely the right person to run the investigation.
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:13 PM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

One of the 13 "gentlemen" Facebook posters has gone public. He was the only one to reject the restorative justice process - because he was the leak, providing inside access to the group to his female classmates and the administration. He claims to have had no part in it, and he had been trying to get the others to recognize what they had said was wrong and apologize (in his words, “Apologizing because you got caught is a completely different thing than apologizing because you’re sorry.”).

Interesting angle to the story, and one that could easily be verified by others so there's a good chance it's true. I'm amazed how completely and thoroughly the university has screwed this one up.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 4:59 PM on January 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

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